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Aria of the Sea

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  591 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
On the island of Normost, in the kingdom of Windward, 13-year-old Cerinthe Gale is a folk healer who dreams of being a dancer. When her mother falls ill, Cerinthe fights to save her — but fails. She blames herself for her mother’s death, gives up healing, and decides to pursue dance. Cerinthe travels across Windward to audition at the School of the Royal Dancers, which acc ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 24th 2003 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published September 13th 2000)
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Aug 13, 2010 Alyssa rated it really liked it
It was a good story that I enjoyed though it was a bit predictable at times. I liked all the characters (even the mean girl), the plot, and the setting of this book -they gave it a nice almost "mystical" feeling. This book kinda reminded me of "Marie Dancing" since she realizes she's dancing because her mother wanted her to and not because she wants to. I thought the last paragraph of the book was so good and uplifting when she realized what she wanted to do with her life. The only person that k ...more
Tessa Stockton
A very deep read for middle grade readers – and it’s refreshing! Within these pages you’ll discover sweet symbolism in a heady fantasy and a kingdom full of gifted youth. One girl in particular, Cerinthe, is torn between her two natural gifts. Can she discern which talent is more than a passion but a purpose, too? Will she learn of her calling, the most fitting path for her future? I thoroughly appreciated this book. Great for all ages! We could all learn a thing or two in real life by consideri ...more
Cerinthe is chosen to be a student at the Royal School of Dance, after her mother's death causes her to reject her talent for healing. Cerinthe is torn between dancing and healing, and her struggle to choose is beautifully portrayed by Calhoun. The characterization is excellent, and the plot takes some unexpected turns; I particularly appreciated how Calhoun handled Cerinthe's incipient romance with a fisherman and her rivalry with another student.
Gail Bradshaw
Mar 11, 2010 Gail Bradshaw rated it it was ok
I didn't appreciate the main character because she drove me absolutely bonkers almost the entire book! It was difficult for me to like her even though she is a good person, and she is young so its understandable why she is the way she is, but personally I was not that foolish when I was her age. It was written well though, the author did do a good job.
Miss Clark
Jul 23, 2009 Miss Clark rated it did not like it
Flat characters, plays on the "be true to yourself and find your purpose in life" theme nicely, but it was plain uninteresting to me. Plus, the religious element was underdeveloped yet used as a crucial part of the plot over and over again.
Jan 08, 2008 Cathy rated it it was amazing
This book was perfectly written! I recommend it to anyone and everyone! Actually, any book by Dia Calhoun is amazing!
Daisy Honeywell
Oct 11, 2013 Daisy Honeywell rated it liked it
Il sogno di Cerinthe Gale è quello di diventare una ballerina, esattamente come ha espresso sua madre poco prima di morire. Desiderosa di superare l'audizione all'Accademia Reale di Balletto, Cerinthe si reca a Faranor, capitale di Sopravvento. Lascia la sua casa e, al fianco di suo padre, si trova nella prestigiosa Accademia. Il modo di scrivere di Dia Calhoun è molto particolare, la trovo molto dotata nel fare le varie descrizioni; il lettore è immediatamente catapultato nell'Accademia e ogni ...more
Bani M
Oct 15, 2010 Bani M rated it really liked it
(*Rating edited- I've changed my mind, this one deserves a 4/5*) Though the Amazon page indicates this book as being aimed at 10-12 year olds, I think it would entertain older readers and many with an interest in YA. The vocabulary is fairly wide and expressive, the atmosphere has a fantastical charm to it though the book is not fantasy. There are some interesting supernatural elements but at its heart, this is a coming of age tale that centers around the heroine's tumultuous journey from childh ...more
Kimberly Hirsh
Dec 23, 2014 Kimberly Hirsh rated it it was amazing
In Dia Calhoun's Aria of the Sea, Cerinthe Gale, a 13 year old resident of the kingdom of Windward, moves from her small island to the capital city in order to audition for the School of the Royal Dancers. As she attends the school, though, Cerinthe finds that her late mother's dream for her to be a professional dancer is in conflict with her own talent for healing and her devotion to the goddess the Sea Maid. Cerinthe blames her own error in healing for her mother's death, and so when her rival ...more
Althea Ann
Jun 02, 2013 Althea Ann rated it liked it
Picked this up because it won the Mythopoeic award.
It was OK, but didn't really live up to my expectations - the storyline was just too familiar, and the worldbuilding was only so-so. It's one of those stories where it really didn't even need to be set in a 'fantasy' world; the fantasy aspect is quite beside the point.

It's also very, very message-y. I don't object to the message at all ("follow your own dreams and talents, rather than feeling that you have to live up to others' expectations"), b
Jennifer Lynn
Jan 24, 2015 Jennifer Lynn rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
As this is the first time I have read this author's work, I was unsure what to expect. I have found many times a plot that is enticing only to have the book fall flat for me. While I was expecting something youthful and pleasing since it says this book is towards ten to thirteen year olds, I was surprised with the level of depth that emerged. This is not some light and teeny ' bopper book but one that actually takes a person to experience wants, needs, pains, and the things you really go through ...more
Mar 10, 2014 Lillian rated it it was amazing
This book is by far one of my favorite books I've read. The flow of the story is BEAUTIFUL, and a real good page turner too!

I loved the plot about the main character, Cerinthe, who is a gifted healer but is passionate about becoming a dancer. She suddenly gives up healing and goes to a school, learning how to dance instead. She ends up being a VERY talented dancer, and becomes one of the best in class - which makes Elliana (our main Antagonist? *laughs*) very jealous of Cerinthe, as she was prev
Jan 03, 2010 Beth rated it it was amazing
Cerinthe Gale, a talented ballet dancer and trained healer, is fulfilling her mother's last wish by attending a prestigious school for dancers. In spite of misgivings about her chosen career, she moves to a city far from her seaside home, where she can longer hear the sweet song of the Sea Maid. Once she has secured a position as a student, Cerinthe finds herself being dangled like a carrot before the nose of the school's prima donna, to motivate her adversary Elliana to realize her own talents ...more
Kristin Landry
Feb 28, 2015 Kristin Landry rated it it was amazing

Aria of the Sea is an intriguing and fascinating book, for where you are trying to constantly keep up with Cerinthe Gale of Normost in her journey to become a dancer. Continuing her year long trip around the kingdom of Windward; she soon embarks on a small adventure in becoming a little diana. The very witty Elliana is able to quickly create the obstacles . Although a seeming sneaky Elliana soon entangle Cerinthe in her schemes. With help of Talya, courage , and hard work; it appears it’s not Ce
Haley Wood
Sep 15, 2012 Haley Wood rated it it was amazing
This book made a lasting impression on me as a kid and I was afraid reading it now that it would lose some of the haunting qualities it had. I was happy to find that it was just as meaningful now, perhaps more so considering the themes. This is the story of a young girl who is trying to decide what she wants to do with her life. Her mother wanted her to be a dancer, her family back home wanted her to be a healer, and everyone seems to be pulling her in different directions. Of course, only she c ...more
Jori Richardson
Dec 10, 2012 Jori Richardson rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: middle to high school girls
Young Cerinthe is training as a folk healer in her island town in the fantasy kingdom of Windward when her mother tragically dies of illness. Blaming herself for being unable to save her, Cerinthe auditions for entrance into a prestigious school of dance. Despite her lowly social status, the school is impressed with her talent, and she is accepted. Her new life at the School of Royal Dancers is not without troubles of its own, however, and Cerinthe soon finds herself thrown into the same terribl ...more
Jan 16, 2010 Mariah rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone!!!!!!!! Especially Dancers
This book is a story of choices, standing up, and finding your calling. Cerinthe Gale is a commoner with dreams of attending the School of Royal Dancers. She had been training for a healer, but when her mother died under her care, she blames herself and abandons healing. But when she abandons that, the Sea Maid stopps singing. Being accepted to the school seems to be the answer to her dreams, but then nothing goes right. Elliana, the best dancer in her class, hates her for being the second best ...more
Feb 13, 2016 Mel rated it it was ok
Shelves: grade-5-6
It was good but the fantasy world behind the story was unnecessary and was a distraction from the story. For example, why would a high cultured island have a famous royal academy for dancing? The company doesn't travel off the island, it seems rare the royalty watches its dance company, and why just dancing? There's no mention of music colleges (necessary for ballet) or an academy (for scholars) or anyone rich enough to really attend a famous dance academy. Maybe I missed the point on that one b ...more
Taylor Hergert
Jun 14, 2015 Taylor Hergert rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 04, 2013 Kayley rated it it was ok
This book infuriated me. I started out being okay with the main character as she went for her dream of being a dancer. Then throughout the novel things just got messy. I kept telling myself to stick with it and keep reading, and I managed to stay committed until the ending, and when I read the ending it was all I had not to throw the book at the wall. The ending you could say is unpredictable, which is being an optimist. The author literally unweaves everything the book's characters had forged i ...more
Jun 11, 2011 Audrey rated it liked it
It reminded of the the Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. A girl dreams of being a Royal Dancer, after feeling like she wasn't accepted at the school she works as a laundry aide, hoping to convince them that she can dance. Eventually, she realizes that she had been accepted all along, but after becoming first in her class. she finds she must make a choice between dancing, and what she has known all her life, healing. I really like this author and the book was an easy read, but very enjoyable.
Dec 20, 2008 Nicole rated it liked it
In a lot of ways, this was just a mediocre, cookie-cutter children's book. The characters and plot were decently interesting, but nothing extraordinary. The one remarkable aspect were moments in the story that perfectly captured an emotion. Though I didn't love the main character (I liked her well enough, I just didn't adore her), there were times when I felt like I knew EXACTLY what she was feeling, and those moments were powerful. Those little gems give the book a higher rating than I would ha ...more
Feb 22, 2014 Rebecca rated it it was ok
Shelves: awful-author
The book started out great, kept going fine, then the book came to a stop with a horrid ending. The book ended terribly! It seemed totally unfinished, but not in the way that it needed a sequel, just that it needed two more chapters and a happier ending. Like everything else I've read by this author, the book sounds really good, the beginning is even really good, then it's left unfinished and ends awfully.
Jan 31, 2008 Luann rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, childrens
Based on the title and the cover picture, I thought this was going to be a story with a mermaid. I was wrong! The information on the back said it was set in a "fantasy kingdom" and was "a story about recognizing and responding to one's calling." I hadn't noticed the part that said it was about "a thirteen-year-old healer who dreams of being a dancer" which is exactly what it is about. There are no mermaids here. :)
Cecilia Rodriguez
May 30, 2015 Cecilia Rodriguez rated it liked it
Set in the fictional kingdom of Windward, Cerinthe is a young girl who blames herself for her mother's death. Following her mother's last wish, Cerinthe auditions to be a student at the School of Royal Dancers.
Calhoun gives a detailed description of the passion and physical demands required to be a ballet dancer.
There is also an interactive link provided by the publisher where young readers can explore the world of ballet.
What I loved most about this story was the sense of finding your true passion; what makes you good at anything else you could possibly try?! What do you have to do first before you can aspire to anything else?

Sincerely one of my favorites. A lovely read, a compelling story, and an absolutely invaluable lesson.
Oct 06, 2011 Maddalena rated it really liked it
One of those books I never get tired of reading.
The characters are believable and interesting (the protagonist is very likeable, which isn't something that happens so frequently), the worldbuilding is solid and original, the story is compelling and unexpected, and, you know, THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY.
Christina Frith
Dec 27, 2012 Christina Frith rated it liked it
I bought this for my daughter when she was eleven. It became one her favourite books. She kept saying, Mum, you have to read it. I finally did and found it to be a beautiful story. Perfect for the deep, wise woman/girl, with mysterious tendencies, with a message of feminine strength and intuitive knowing~
Apr 06, 2009 Michelle rated it liked it
The first 9/10 of this book I would give 5 stars. It was predictable but a really great story. Interesting, good characters, good lessons for YA.
Then the author had a lobotomy and just trashed the ending. It's like she decided to destroy the characters, trash the moral and set up problems for a sequel. Disappointing.
Sep 18, 2011 Josephine rated it liked it
About a girl who heals, it was sweet but ultimately forgettable. Conflict in an adolescents heart and something about love. It's nice enough.

healer who wants to be a dancer, she's magical and it's sad, and she's a middle school aged girl... sweet, melodramtic, why is it on this list? It was like a looong poem. Like it felt poetic.
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Author, essayist, and poet Dia Calhoun won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature for her novel Aria of the Sea. Three of her eight novels are American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults. Calhoun’s contemporary novel Eva of the Farm was a Hornbook Magazine Best Verse Novel. Reviewing Calhoun’s most recent book, After the River the Sun School Library Journal wrote—“Love ...more
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“Look." He held out the piece of roughly carved walnut. "What will this be?"

"I see a wing," Cerinthe said. "No - maybe a fin?"

Old Skolla squinted. "At first a skylark seemed waiting in the wood. SO my knife carved, seeking that shape. But soon a different shape called to me, a dolphin - and after all that work on the skylark." He clicked his tongue. "To seek the new shape, Old Skolla had to let the old one go."

Cerinthe frowned. "What if the new shape isn't as good as the old one?"

"Aye, it would have been a good skylark, that's certain," he said. "But if the skylark stays, the dolphin's lost - or never found. So which would you rather? A good skylark forced upon the wood or a dolphin that sings out from the soul of the grain?”
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